Gurudev’s Way


Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda

Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh

Most of the great Indian spiritual leaders of the last century had what you might call definite theologies of their own. Papa Ramdas preached the divine name. Ramana Maharshi, enquiry, Sri Aurobindo, the descent of divine consciousness. But it is difficult to associate any theology with Gurudev unless it might be, Be good. Do good. Other than that, he borrowed from all sources, all religions, all gurus, although perhaps he gave his own twist to them. He would even sit in satsang and make notes on talks by his own disciples and then convert them into an article or into aphorisms.

We too can develop our own theology, or we can be more like Gurudev, always receptive. But then, Gurudev wasn’t just receptive, taking one idea after another and that became what he believed, rather whatever he heard was absorbed by his understanding, his fundamental knowledge. If we wanted to ask what that was, we could answer in many ways, but it could be, “You are not this body, not this mind. Immortal Self you are.” In other words, whatever the teachings from whatever the source, Gurudev knew that he was That, he was Brahman, he was Immortal Self. So all teachings were met by that realisation, and he used them in that light.

Sometimes we can have our strong beliefs. This is what we have realised. And whatever we hear, we convert into our own theology. Or, we can be very open, accepting all opinions, perhaps having no firm ones of our own. That was not Gurudev’s way. Gurudev knew the truth of the scriptures, that he was Brahman, he was That. He knew the absolute truth. It was a fact of his life that he was That. Once established in that knowledge, he didn’t need to have a theology of his own. He could see the truth in whatever theology, in whatever ideas were presented to him. Or, he would see how they could lead to the realisation of the final truth.

So it is with us. We shouldn’t be clinging on to whatever ideas we presently have. We should be ever open to new ideas, to new ways of expression. But always we must be firmly fixed in the truth of the scriptures. There is an absolute truth that we are meant to realise. There is an absolute truth that exists right now. We’re not meant to have fuzzy ideas. We’re meant to base our life on the truth that right now we are what we are seeking. We should therefore welcome any idea, from any source that will help us to clear away the cobwebs so we can realise the present truth.

Perhaps this attitude is one of the greatest things we can receive from Gurudev–to try at all times to be focused on the absolute truth and at all times to welcome any teaching that will remind us of that absolute truth.

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